Never, ever give up a nice 18. I currently own both a 16, and an 18 that I have been sailing for 30 years....For years I thought I couldn't right my boat solo either, and like you I was thinking about downsizing, after losing my steady crew. A friend kept lending me his 14 turbo thinking I might like it. I spent some time messing around trying to right it on dead days. I was disturbed to find that it wasn't a given that I could get the 14 uprighted either. I could get it sometimes with his bucket and just the right wind conditions...but I have righted my 16 and the 18 solo many times too with no bucket and the right wind and wave combinations.
BUT, I knew I needed something I could count on first time everytime and I found it with a righting pole. I use the same pole on both the 16 and the 18 switching it over to whichever I'm sailing, and I sail the 18 almost all the time now, mostly because it is just in far better condition than the 16, and I've sailed a lifetime on the 18, so it's like my weapon of choice.
The pole is an 8 foot piece of aluminum conduit that I have padded both ends on. I carry it across the hulls in front of the front crossbar and bungeed to it. I have SX wings on my 18 that the pole pads nest into, but the pads on the ends carry equally well bungeed to the front pylons on the 16. I played around trying to carry my pole under the tramp like I have seen on youtube videos, but it drags too much in the waves I like to sail in, AND being a lightweight like you, I found that simple physics dictates that a pole the width of your boat is just what you at 150 lbs will need to lift your 18 mast..I've done the research for you.
I still have a righting line on my boat but I use it mostly as a sissy line if I have crew and we are doubled out on the wing in big waves. The righting line is a little faster if I have crew onboard anyway....but that's not the point.
If I throw the pole on the front crossbar I can fly the 18 hull to my heart's content, or push it hard off the wind and never ever even think twice about it.
I spent some time creating the right interface surface and padding the ends of my aluminum pole, but a friend inspired by my success found that he could do the same thing with an 8 foot spruce 2x4 from Lowes, so if you have a nice 18 I'd never give her up.
Last edited by fastfriend on Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.